As happy as you can. For as long as you can Dementia & Alzheimer's disease

Dr Isra Halim
Dr Isra Halim

 | 1 minute to read
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Do you want to live to at least 80 years?

Hale and hearty, playing with your grandchild, watching them at their gen-next antics? Do you want to connect with your old buddies and recall the memories you created 40 years ago? What if one day you wake up and fail to recognize your child? What if suddenly you are unable to find your keys and you eventually find them in the refrigerator? Watching TV is confusing and frightening? You come across a Facebook memory, and stare blankly wondering who pictures in them? Old age is real. Dementia is real. Alzheimer’s disease is real. What’s startling is that 100 odd years after Dr. Alzheimer’s studied the brain of the first woman to die with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s- the world has yet not found a cure. As we age, our brain begins to shrink. The synapses, the neural circuitry – over a 100 trillion of which we have now in our brain, begin to decrease in number. The chemicals signals between synapses- the neurotransmitter- also decrease in activity and number. Much like hardware and software failures. What lies in between synapses now are amyloid plaques and tangles, causing a cascade of degenerative changes. Suddenly your memory wanes away, your intellect is gone, your judgement has disappeared. Talking to people is not fun anymore, because you know not who you are talking to! Wondering why this subject is being talked off on a fitness and nutrition page? Most of us on this page are between the ages of 20-60 years. In the coming few decades, most, if not all of us will start showing changes of dementia. By 2020, 70 million people are estimated to have dementia. Basically, one in ever two people are going to be either suffering from dementia or attending to the needs of a parent or friend with dementia. What if I tell you that if you are anywhere close to your 40’s or above, your PET scan will already show first signs of amyloid plaque deposition in your brain? What causes these changes and how can we slow down the changes, if not stop them completely? 1. Genes: If your parents or their parents unfortunately landed up with Alzheimer’s you are more likely to have it too. Certain apolipoproteins passed down families leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Is there anything you can do about it? Nope 2. Old age: With mirth and laughter, do wrinkles come. Old age is inevitable. 3. A good night’s sleep: Did you know, a single night of disturbed sleep can increase the levels of Beta amyloid in your brain. The good news is that short wave deep sleep works as a powerful cleanse to your brain matter- washing away newly formed microscopic plaques and tangles. Long hours on your phone and the binge-watching of series is definitely aging you faster. 4. Eating well: This is the most modifiable change you could bring about to your life. A plethora of research on how calorie restricted, macronutrient adjusted diets maintaining healthy weight throughout your lifetime actually helps slow down the changes of Alzheimer’s disease. Hypertension, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular diseases, other lifestyle diseases- all are contributory to increasing your risk of dementia. 5. Exercise: Dementia is not only a cognitive change. It’s one that decreases strength, balance and mobility. We become prone to fall due to imbalance, frail due to decreasing strength and even walking a few steps may be a task. Why not build on better strength while you can. Lift weights, practice balance- yoga, tai-chi, flexibility and mobility drills; so that when the monster arrives, you are in better shape and strength to overcome physical restrictions. 6. Increase cognitive reserve and be good: I don’t say this for the article to feel motivating and optimistic. Research speaks. Research speaks volumes about how the best way to put off dementia for longer is by learning a new skill, a new language, stop comparing the grass on the other side, and start watering your own patch. Make new friends, read a book, take a new road. Invest time in yourself. Be good. Be kind to people - the one thing dementia cannot take away from you is love and kindness. For as long as you can- exercise, eat well, sleep well. As happy as you can, for as long as you can Fittr. Bettr. Smartr. Image credits: Mayo clinic Institute
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